A CAMPAIGN group opposed to green-belt house building has branded consultations into future development in the Capital a “rubber-stamping” exercise and an “absolute farce”.
Cammo Residents’ Association claims city planners have already resolved to unlock tranches of green-belt land for housebuilding – a move it believes will lead to traffic tailbacks and heightened levels of pollution in west Edinburgh.
Planning chiefs stress no decision has been taken over the Local Development Plan (LDP) – a building masterplan that earmarks areas for potential development – but pressure to release land could mount with the city expected to see an extra 29,000 new homes over the next decade. West Edinburgh is believed to be a prime site for additional housing, with a string of developers registering an interest.
Among them is the Garden District, a billion-pound green zone boosting 3500 homes and lodged by the property arm of former Rangers’ chief Sir David Murray’s corporation.
But Gary Bennett, chair of the Cammo Residents’ Association, has railed against the planning process which he said had failed to take residents’ views into account.
He said: “We are formally at a consultation stage over the plans at the moment, yet the council sees fit to include unapproved proposals in their guidance for developers as if they have already been agreed that these areas will be built on.
“This is not democracy and it is not consultation. It is just rubber-stamping.
“It appears that local concerns around pollution, congestion and protection of the green belt are being sacrificed in order to serve the council’s need to balance its financial position.” Last week around 230 people attended a public forum to debate how future planning decisions may impact upon west Edinburgh.
Organised by west Edinburgh politicians, the majority were fearful that thousands of new homes could make life unbearable due to traffic congestion and pollution.
Chair of the event, Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir said: “I think the feelings of the Cammo Residents’ Association are borne out of frustration with the planning department at Edinburgh City Council.”
Cllr Ian Perry, planning convener, said brownfield sites are expected to house 89 per cent of new development.
He said: “Edinburgh needs to grow and as a consequence more homes need to be built.
“One of the challenges facing the council is to balance the need for growth with the protection of our green spaces.
“We must look at ways to bring forward development on these sites but unfortunately this will not be enough.”
He added: “Some green field sites will have to be identified for development in order to achieve the amount of housing required by the government as part of their growth plan for the city.”
A council meeting to debate the Local Development Plan has been postponed to a special planning committee meeting on June 12.